An inmate has sued Oregon Department of Corrections staff for failing to serve meals that observe his Muslim faith.
Rashid Kambarov, 29, who is serving a sentence for rape, filed a complaint this week in U.S. District Court in Pendleton.
He is a legal permanent resident from Turkey and is incarcerated at Two Rivers Correctional Institution in Umatilla. He is suing the superintendent of Two Rivers, Troy Bowser, and other administrators at the prison.
Betty Bernt, spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections, on Tuesday declined to comment, saying the agency does not comment on pending litigation.
Bernt said the agency accommodates inmates’ requests for religious diets by offering a “meat alternative tray” or a kosher diet prepared in accordance with Jewish law. To request a kosher diet, an inmate must speak with the prison chaplain, said Bernt.
Kambarov claims he is not served halal meat and that vegetarian alternatives have been cross-contaminated with pork, a forbidden food for Muslims. Halal refers to food and drink prepared in accordance with Islamic dietary laws.
He claims the state’s failure to accommodate his religion violates the First and 14th Amendments and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Person Act of 2000, which bars state and local jails and prisons from imposing arbitrary limits on inmates’ religious practices.
According to the suit, Kambarov asked for and was denied a special diet to accommodate his faith when he was sent to prison in 2015.
He says he was told that the department offers Muslim inmates a “pork-free meat alternative diet” that includes fresh and cooked fruits and vegetables.
He says he was told that the food would not come into contact with pork or alcohol, halal requirements.
Kambarov said he was also told the vegetarian option “is the best option for a Muslim.” However, Kambarov said he witnessed kitchen staff handling vegetarian meals as well as salami.
In other instances, he said he was served soup he later learned contained pork and watched staff use the same knife to cut vegetables and ham.
He said his requests for kosher meals, which are prepared in accordance with Jewish law, were rejected by prison staff. Kosher requirements satisfy Muslim dietary restrictions, he said.
The suit doesn’t list a dollar amount in damages. (Click to Source)